Installing Geoserver in Docker

Docker is an exciting new (in January 2014 anyway) technology I can see that I'll be using a lot! I love the idea of a quarrantined machine that reuses the host machine's kernel etc, rather than duplicating them like traditional a virtual machines (VMWare,VirtualBox) do. Smaller foot print and removes all the bloat.

Before we start you need to have Docker installed already.. if you don't head over to the Docker website, they have great instructions on how to install Docker.

I strongly prefer the OpenGeo distribution of Geoserver; it install and configs a bunch of stuff to save us time/effort - for example; postgresql 9.3, postgis 2.1, geowebcache, gdal tools etc.

Warning: geoserver instalation is known to be tricky/problematic. Especially the glad part. Plus, OpenGeo is only supported on 12.04. Trying to install on 12.10 may cause you a mountain of punish.

Anyway, lets get started installing OpenGeo Geoserver;

1) Grab the standard/generic Ubuntu (Precise - 12.04 LTS) Docker image

sudo docker pull ubuntu:quantal

2) Now run the Docker machine interactively

sudo docker run -i -t ubuntu:quantal /bin/bash    

Now notice the different command prompt syntax. Mine is root@4f46de7402cb:/#. The 4f46de7402cb is the UUID of the Docker Container on your host machine. Keep a keen eye out for this as it shows you when you are in the Docker machine.. its easy to miss, believe me!

2) (In the Docker Container.. ie virtual machine) Check the Docker Ubuntu verison just for fun

cat /etc/lsb-release

You should see something like


Why didn't we use lsb-release -a you ask... try it?!

Now we continue to install opengeo geoserver kind of as if we installing on a cloud or physical Ubuntu 12.04 machine. kind of... well, there are few differences, mostly notably we do not use sudo in for our commands and a bunch of stuff you usually use (eg wget/curl) is not installed by default on Docker.

3) (In the Docker machine) Add the universal apt repositories and update echo "deb precise main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/opengeo.list apt-get update

4) Install some of the standard utilities we love & and use that are often installed by default in our distro; apt-get install -y wget gcc patch zip nano ## or your fav text editor apt-get install -y software-properties-common

3) Grab the OpenGeo GPG apt key wget -qO- | apt-key add -

4) Add the OpenGeo and the UbuntuGIS apt repositories and update echo "deb precise main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/opengeo.list add-apt-repository -y ppa:ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable apt-get update apt-get upgrade

5) Often we get dependancy problems with geoserver... especially the libgdal package. So we're going to try loading libgdal on its own to make sure it works. If things go pear shaped here you're on your own!!

apt-get install -y libgdal    

If you do have problems, checkout the following for another way to install libgdal -

6) Double check that you can find opengeo in the apt-cache before we proceed with the main event apt-cache search opengeo

You should see

geoserver - High performance, standards-compliant map and geospatial data server.
opengeo - OpenGeo Suite.
opengeo-client - OpenGeo Suite client components.
opengeo-dashboard - Dashboard for OpenGeo Suite.
opengeo-docs - Full documentation for the OpenGeo Suite.
opengeo-jai - A set of Java toolkits to provide enhanced image rendering abilities for the OpenGeo Suite.
opengeo-recipes - Recipe book for OpenGeo Suite.
opengeo-server - OpenGeo Suite server components.
opengeo-tomcat6 - OpenGeo web applications for Tomcat 6.
opengeo-webapp-sdk - OpenGeo Suite Web Application SDK.

Note: opengeo installs postgresql 9.3, postgis 2.1, openjdk, tomcat6 and python xxx for us

7) Finally, install OpenGeo

apt-get install -y opengeo-server 

This install OpenGeo in /usr/share/opengeo and Tomcat6 in /usr/share/tomcat6

8) [Optionally] Remove some packages you may not need

apt-get remove opengeo-dashboard       ## fairly useless IMO 
apt-get remove opengeo-docs            ## who read em anyway
apt-get remove geoexplorer             ## a cool web mapping client I've player with but never used
apt-get remove opengeo-client          ## include pgadmin  

That leaves these installed;
- geoserver: the main web mapping server - postgis21-postgresql93: postgresql and postgis - geowebcache: tile cache etc - opengeo-tomcat: the J2EE engine - geoserver-css: CSS Styling is FAR easier than SLD! see

Tomcat? I have used Jetty before and prefer it to Tomcat. Jetty is faster but the install is a lot more fiddly - maybe another how-to post later on.

10) Exit Docker


11) REALLY IMPORTANT - Save the Docker Container to a new Docker Image

Now in the host system... get the details of the last Container we ran

Create a new Docker Image with the Docker Container we have just used docker commit 4f46de7402cb ianscrivener/geoserver-base

To run the Docker machien again use

docker run -i -t ianscrivener/geoserver-base /bin/bash

This creates a new instance.. ie Docker Container

12) Some quick Docker cheats;

List all instances (Docker Containers)

sudo docker ps -a

List all running instances (Docker Containers)

sudo docker ps

List all Docker Images

docker images

Remove Docker Containers

docker rm <container_id>

Remove Docker Image

docker rmi <image_name>